Way Back When in Black River, Jamaica

I bet you didn’t know……


The sleepy little town of Black River on Jamaica’s south coast has SO much to do with the island’s history.  I sure didn’t know until I went on the most amazing walking tour of the town, led by local history buff and Black River resident, Allison Morris.

I had made contact with Allison before my arrival in Black River for the sole purpose of taking this tour.  I didn’t know a thing about the town and I thought it would be a great way to get familiar as well as learn more about the history of this island I love so much.  I adore Jamaican history.  It intrigues me.  So I signed up for a semi-private tour and met Allison at one of the town’s monuments – St John’s Anglican church – which was the starting point (and one of the focal points) of our half-day excursion.


st johns anglican church black river jamaica

st johns anglican church black river jamaica

st johns anglican church black river jamaica

We spent more than an hour touring the inside and outside of this church, which is more than 175 years old.  Allison is the pipe organist here but also teaches the rich history of the building and the important families involved here while showing us every angle.  She even played some pretty awesome music on the giant pipe organ.

Outside in the church yard are several memorial plots of some of the important people she speaks of on the tour.  I really have a lot of respect for Mrs. Morris as she and her family have dug through generations of history in Black River to develop this tour and it’s so enlightening.


st johns anglican church black river jamaica


st johns anglican church black river jamaica

Moving on from the church we headed towards the center of town where we reach the bridge.  For those who just visit or drive through, this is just a bridge.  But this port of entry to the island was actually an alternate port to Kingston for the unloading of slaves during the British slave trade.  The information given in this tour is priceless if you’re into Jamaican history.  Who would have thought that this little town could boast so much importance from the past?


black river jamaica bridge

Not far from the bridge is a monument to the historical Zong Massacre that happened in 1781 on the way to Black River from Liverpool, England.  More information on that can be found here.


zong massacre black river jamaica


zong massacre black river jamaica

From the center of Black River we drove more to the west side of town where Allison also pointed out Magdala House.  Originally owned by one of the richest men in 19th century Jamaica, the house now belongs to the Roman Catholic Church and serves as a home for abandoned children.

magdala house jamaica

And finally our tour ended at the famous Waterloo Guest House which happens to be one of the only visible accommodations online for Black River.  It’s also the first house in all of Jamaica to have electricity.  Just one of the millions of pieces of amazing tidbits I learned on this tour.  The grave of John Leyden lies in the yard behind the guest house.  He was one of the Leyden brothers who have a large influence in the history of Black River and Jamaica.


waterloo guest house

john leyden grave jamaica

Now….I’m not going to tell you any more details about this fantastically put-together tour because I want you to just go TAKE the tour!  Allison Morris has it right when she says…..

There never was a town quite like this!

For a tornado of Black River historical information please visit Allison Morris’s website, Real Jamaica Vacations.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *